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A Modern Twist on Iconic Makeup Looks

A Modern Twist on Iconic Makeup Looks
September 11, 2020

How many beauty trends have there been over the years… Hundreds? Thousands? It would be too hard to count, but we can all remember the big ones as time has gone by. Even if you aren’t old enough to remember a lot of the celebrity trends of the past, they used to be so iconic that a lot of their inspiration has passed down and will always be a big part of each generation.

Ok, so some trends we might be better of without these days (barely-there eyebrows, I’m talking to you!) but for the most part we can all look to these fantastic icons and grab some of their trends for our own modern take on their inspired looks.

Cleopatra Inspired Makeup

Cleopatra is arguably one of the most famous female rulers in history. While busy ruling Kingdoms of Egypt and raising armies, she managed to become an icon of female empowerment and beauty. Ok, so over the years, Cleopatra’s image has changed somewhat, becoming Hollywood-ised in one of the 1960’s biggest films, and portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor. But always known for her beauty, you can forgive the Hollywood studios for exaggerating Cleopatra’s makeup look as it has become so iconic today.

Without going too “Halloween costume” it is possible to borrow snippets of her makeup style to create a similar iconic look with a modern twist. First of all, you want to focus on the skin, think bronzed and reflective. But to keep it low-key, aim for a light bronzing powder or gel on the cheeks and up to the temples with highlights on the brow and cheek bones and under the eyes. All skin tones can pull this off, it is just about finding the right balance of bronze or swapping it out for a light shimmer in rose gold on fair skin tones.

Next, you want to get to work on the eyebrows. Make them a strong focus of the face with an eyebrow gel that will stay in place, follow the lines of your natural brows but exaggerate and lengthen your arch slightly to really get a Cleopatra vibe to your makeup.

And of course, the look wouldn’t say Cleopatra without drawing attention to the eyes and adding some brass and gold colours to solidify the whole idea. For a day to day wearable makeup ensemble, stick to the upper lids, keeping it thick and brassy and drawing it out to the corners. Add a touch of highlight to the inner corners to widen the eyes and draw attention. Add a touch of contour to the creases of your eyelid in a darker brown or deep gold without blending too much. Cleopatra’s makeup style is very pronounced, and this look is usually carried off well with similar intensity.

Now for the fun stuff: Eyeliner! The Cleopatra makeup look is all about the eyeliner and don’t be afraid to use lots of it. For a daytime look, keep lines thin and sleek, but for the evening, get to work on those lines and practicing with a sharp kohl pencil for full authenticity. The cat-eye is what you want to go for here, with a thick black line starting in a clear point from under your tear duct, along the bottom water line and out toward the end of the brow. Do the same on the upper lid but try switching to a deep black gel eyeliner and with a steady hand keep the line straight to meet the end of the bottom wing. For the really crafty people out there, try to hold back from connecting the two corners and leave some negative space that screams Cleopatra! Finish off with some volumizing jet black mascara and don’t forget to keep your hair straight and sleek for the ultimate look.

Marilyn Monroe Inspired Makeup

When it comes to iconic style, you can never forget about Ms Monroe as her image has transcended generations and is still the epitome of Hollywood glamour. Her sex appeal was undeniable and she was just as famous for her curves as she was for her screen presence, so it is no surprise that a woman of such beauty sent shockwaves the world over and left a lasting legacy for future women. When it came to her makeup style, she was very versatile but in later years cemented her look with clean but edgy lines that oozed sophistication.

So, how do you pull off Marilyn Monroe’s iconic makeup style? Well first you have to start off with the skin. Her face was so pure and clear of imperfection due to her beauty regime involving petroleum jelly instead of moisturiser. But there are other ways to get that dewy and hydrated look to your skin with light moisturisers and a good primer to even out skin tones and dark patches. Marilyn was a big fan on glowing skin so when it comes to applying foundation, keep it fresh with a medium coverage and use concealer to rid the eyes of dark circles. Apply blush to the cheeks in peachy tones to keep in style with her look.

Then onto the eyebrows. Marilyn Monroe had very sleek eyebrows, brushed upward to accentuate her high arch. When it comes to grooming, keep it minimal, just ridding of strays but not trying to make the eyebrows twins. Use a light gel around the same tone as your brows to keep them brushed upward and outward to accentuate your arches. In keeping with the modern approach to Marilyn’s makeup, don’t go overboard with eyebrow contouring or definitive lines, just be sure to have a good eyebrow brush to hand and fix their shape into place so they look natural. Use a light pencil to extend the peak if necessary but be aware of points that can make your eyebrows look a bit too pantomime!

Marilyn’s eye makeup was the definition of sultry. Giving the cats-eye a run for its money with long and low wings extending out way past her upper eyelid. To do this and keep it modern, try copying her eyeliner still with a different coloured eye pencil in brown, red or even deep green. From the top of the tear duct, draw a neat line without peaking at the centre of the eyelid, the idea is to widen the eye but don’t lose that sultry Marilyn vibe.

Her lips were famously red and pouty and is achievable by anyone with a steady hand and an eye for contour. Instead of lining the lips and filling in the colour, try her look with 3 different shades of red and contouring from the corners and highlighting in the centre for an exaggerated pout and that signature Marilyn Monroe style.

Grace Jones Inspired Makeup

Grace Jones was a pop icon of the 1980s and her inspired cubist and futuristic style is still serving us looks to this day. Grace wanted to break the mould and not be constrained by genres and typecasts and she did this with, aherm… grace and elegance all the way through her career.

Her signature style was not even signature at all as she changed it up so much, but she did stay true to her famous cheekbones and drew influences from other artists and eras such as the looks of Bowie and the discos of Studio 54. With androgynous style, Grace Jones was certainly an icon with plenty of inspiration to pass down to future generations.

So, how do we emanate Grace Jones’ style and bring it right into 2020? Well, honestly her use of colour, geometric shapes and fierce eyeliner could all have been lifted straight out of a 2020 editorial or runway, and if you really want to copy her makeup style with a modern twist, your changes only need to be minimal. Think razor sharp cheekbones with plenty of blush, the most piercing eyes and never be afraid to use just a little more purple lipstick!

So, let’s start with her fabulous bone structure. One of the best things to come out of makeup development over the last 20 years is contouring and accessibility to contouring tools and makeup. So even if you don’t have the bone structure of the goddess that is Grace Jones (as many of us don’t!) you can always fake it ‘til you make it. Draw very steep angles under the cheekbones, use plenty of contour around the jawline and cupids bow to accentuate your features and always add a little highlight to the outward architecture of the face to really bring forward those assets. Blend well and apply blush heavily from the temples down the cheeks in the direction of your mouth to achieve her fully perfected facial look. Grace preferred a darker blush or experimented with brighter pinks and purples, remember to stick to colours that compliment your skin tone, but don’t be afraid to try something new that may surprise you.

When it comes to doing your eyes like Grace Jones, you need to put any apprehensions behind you and just go for it. I would suggest to keep things modern, if you are going to go all out on the eyes, maybe keep the colours on the cheeks toned down to avoid clashes. Grace liked a lot of colour on her eyes and to copy her look you want to take the colour all the way up to the brow with heavy highlights at the inner corners of the eyes and on the brow bone. Try out two or even three tones to create different shapes, maybe a light purple underneath the eye, electric blue on the upper lid and night sky blue to the contours and up to the brow to emanate Grace Jones’ typical style.

Eyeliner should be sharp and deep black to get the full look. Just like the Cleopatra look, eyeliner should start underneath the tear ducts, but to take it to Grace’s level, extend it way past the eyes and in an upward angle toward the brow bone.

Grace’s eyebrows were very thin, angular and precise, but to take a modern twist on her iconic style, avoid the tweezers and focus on the grooming and fixing of the eyebrows. Eyebrow lamination would be perfect for this look as it’s sleek, shiny and will hold for a long time. If you are looking for a quicker and cheaper option, use a good eyebrow gel after pencilling in gaps, lengthening your eyebrows for her signature style.

Grace Jones already had the perfect lip outline, so it was easy for her to rock a whole range of lip colours and wearable styles. While darker colours were her favourite, she also loved the classic red in high gloss to finish off her look. For the modern take on her look, compliment your lip colour with your eye palette, remember to contour the outer corners of the lips and ensure your lip colour has staying power. If playing with deep blues and purples, a black lipstick with violet highlights and an overall coverage of gloss will serve her look really well.

Other Iconic Looks

There have been so many women who made waves by presenting a new look to the world through movies or music and each of them have something iconic about them that we all take some inspiration from to this day.

The chameleon that is Madonna has blessed us with so many iconic versions of herself, it would be hard to know where to start. Do you go “Material Girl” Madonna or perhaps “Evita” Madonna? Or what about Audrey Hepburn? It would be impossible to count all of the gorgeous looks this gracious lady served us.

But the thing is, there is always something we can take from them, from Audrey’s full eyebrows and doe-eyed eyeliner, to Madonna’s messy eyebrows and bright eyeshadow. Or how about Debbie Harry’s signature punk hair and dark smoky eyeshadow or Twiggy’s infamous eyelashes?

In order to create your own look by taking inspiration from icons of the past, the key is to use good quality makeup, always prep and prime the face, eyelids and lips before applying and be sure to have a massive sense of adventure. Oh, and don’t forget to take pictures of your own iconic makeup looks!